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HomeNewsInternational NewsBillionaire Richard Branson Reaches Space in His Own Ship

Billionaire Richard Branson Reaches Space in His Own Ship

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TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — Swashbuckling entrepreneur Richard Branson hurtled into space aboard his own winged rocket ship Sunday, beating out fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos.

The nearly 71-year-old Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company reached an altitude of about 53 miles (85 kilometers) over the New Mexico desert — enough to experience three to four minutes of weightlessness and witness the curvature of the Earth — and then safely glided to a runway landing.

“The whole thing, it was just magical,” a jubilant Branson said after the trip home aboard the gleaming white space plane, named Unity.

The brief, up-and-down flight — the space plane’s portion took only about 15 minutes, or about as long as Alan Shepard’s first U.S. spaceflight in 1961 — was a splashy and unabashedly commercial plug for Virgin Galactic, which plans to start taking paying customers on joyrides next year.

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